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Nursing Home Industry Tries to Rig Federal Regulations


Want to win an iPad? You have a chance if you work for a nursing home that submits 10 or more comments to CMS on the proposed rule on Requirements of Participation for nursing homes. The American Health Care Association (AHCA), the largest lobby group for nursing home operators, is offering this reward to persuade its members to submit thousands of comments to the federal government. By, in essence, stuffing the ballot box, AHCA is trying to pressure CMS to weaken and stall the proposed regulations.

According to AHCA, the proposed rule “goes too far, demands the changes too quickly and costs too much” and would lead to “Washington micromanaging even basic functions in our centers.” What kind of micromanagement is AHCA concerned about? Among other changes it is seeking, it is urging its members to fight a proposed requirement that would prohibit a nursing home from using any person, including contract staff, who is incompetent. AHCA claims it is unreasonable to expect a nursing home to be responsible for the competency of contract staff.

It might come as quite a shock to people living in nursing homes that operators do not think they are responsible for the competency and conduct of the people who are giving them care. If a nursing home cannot ensure the competency of contract staff, it should not use them.

What does it say about the nursing home industry that it is awarding prizes to induce its members to fight to allow them to use incompetent contract staff?

One would hope that CMS would see through this deplorable tactic. The proposed rules in question are the first major rewrite of the federal Requirements of Participation for nursing homes since they were published in 1991 to implement the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. Although CMS claims the proposed changes will modernize the Requirements, they would do little to ensure that nursing homes are adequately staffed and to stop the epidemic use of chemical restraints.

The proposed rules have a 60-day comment period. Comments are due on September 14, 2015. Don’t let the nursing home industry have the only voice on this issue.